The final list of the Australian national team, the first opponent of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) of the Korean national baseball team, was announced on the 10th (Korean time).
Australia is an opponent Lee Kang-cheol-ho must catch. Korea is in Group B along with Japan, Australia, China and the Czech Republic in the first round of the tournament. With the right to advance to the quarterfinals up to the second place in the group, Korea is expected to compete fiercely with Australia for a spot in the group. Korea, which aims to reach the quarterfinals or higher, must defeat Australia, its first opponent and second-place competitor in the group stage.
The Australian national team has a large number of players with minor league experience. Most of them, including outfielder Tim Kennelly (37), catcher Alex Hall (23, Milwaukee Brewers), and outfielder Ulych Boyarski (24, Detroit Tigers), are players with experience in the American minor leagues. They have proven their skills by consistently participating in the Australian Professional Baseball League (ABL) held in winter.
The most notable player on the pitching staff is Warwick Saupold. Saupold is familiar to Korean fans, having played for the Hanwha Eagles for two seasons since 2019. Saupold started in the evaluation match against Japan held in November of last year, and is considered a strong starting resource in this WBC. He is also likely to be selected for the Korean War.
However, the ratings are not as good as before. Suppold, who was sluggish by giving up 2 runs in 2 and 1/3 innings in the 바카라evaluation match against Japan, was also sluggish in the ABL in the 2022-23 season with an average ERA of 5.56 with 3 wins and 2 losses in 10 games. Coach Son Jeong-wook of Geelong Korea, who played against Seopold, also said, “The speed is in the mid-140km range, but the pitch is somewhat lacking. There was no strong feeling like before.”
Among the fielders, Aaron Whitefield, the only major leaguer, stands out. Whitefield, who also played an active part in the ABL Melbourne Aces, was praised for his “quick feet and excellent running sense” from coach Lee Kang-cheol, who watched Australian baseball. However, Whitefield’s major league performance is only 8 games, 12 at-bats, no hits. He recorded a batting average of 0.262, 9 home runs and 38 RBIs in 79 games in the minor league double-A last year.
Among minor leaguers, Robbie Glendining (27, Kansas City Royals) stands out. Glendining, who recorded a batting average of 0.252 with 19 homers and 76 RBIs in 118 games in Double A last year, performed well with the ABL Melbourne Aces with a batting average of 0.291, 6 homers and a slugging average of 0.457 in 35 games. Minor league veteran Tim Kennelly and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Orix Buffaloes Daryl George (29) were also included in the list.
Ya Su-jin’s career is outstanding, but his weaknesses are also clear. The KBO Technical Committee, which watched the evaluation game against Japan last year, found that Australian hitters have a weakness in breaking balls. The national team also selected players with good breaking balls such as Park Se-woong, Kim Won-joong (above Lotte), and Lee Yong-chan (NC).
Coach Son Jeong-wook, who played against Australian national players at Geelong Korea, also said, “Australian batters were weak against curveballs and forkball-type breaking balls. The reason is that Jang Jae-young (Kiwoom, 6 games, 37) and Jeong Yi-hwang (Hanwha, 6 games, 28), who led the breakout ball, had a large number of strikeouts. He showed weakness even against sidearm pitchers like Kim Jae-young (Hanwha).” MLB.com also evaluated Australia’s power as “not the best power”. But still, don’t be fooled. In the last 3 or 4 tournaments, Korea was eliminated from the preliminaries after being caught by the Netherlands and Israel, who were rated one step below. In order not to repeat the same mistakes, carelessness is prohibited. The game against Australia, in which Lee Kang-cheol-ho’s luck is at stake, will be held at the Tokyo Dome on March 9th.